Playbook Review #2

About a month ago I started a new term for my masters program. With a big load of reading required from week 1, I decided it was time to try the Playbook again. My desire to “get out from behind the computer” was very compelling at this time. I was already impressed with the Playbook, but I wasn’t sure of its purpose. Within a week of owning it again though, I clearly saw its usefulness for me.

I’m traveling to a clinic every 2nd day, spending time on public transportation. Having the playbook with me has allowed me to read through a high amount of literature for my masters course, and this has saved me a lot of time. As a mobile device, it’s been great. The small size of the Playbook means that I can actually put it in my jacket pocket. This compares to another person I saw reading from an iPad while on Skytrain. Once he got to his stop, he had to pack the iPad away in a small shoulder bag. I suppose other people may choose to carry an iPad in their hand though. The smart UI of the Playbook continues to impress, and is being validated by Apple’s decision to incorporate RIM’s border swipe into their new IOS5.

I’ve also started to take my Playbook to school and use it to present material on the lcd projector. Its small size and weight make it preferable for carrying to school compared to my laptop computer. The screen resolution continues to impress me (1024×600 vs the iPad2 1024×768), and battery life is very good: it lasts all day and I imagine it easily exceeds 8hrs (I’ve never timed it).
As well, I’ve used the Playbook with Adobe Connect for my masters course. Video, sound and mic work great and didn’t present any problems.

I guess the Playbook still struggles in the App department and I continue to be baffled by people’s fascination with apps. While I have installed more apps recently, I almost always use the same 4 or 6. In talking with other tablet owners it seems that this is very common. I think the Playbook currently fails as being a gaming device or platform because of game app availability, so if gaming is your thing you probably want to look elsewhere. It would be interesting to see what tablet users use their tablet for, in percentage of use. I imagine the breakdown goes something like this, from highest use to lowest: web browsing, gaming, social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, blogging), eReading, email, other app.

I haven’t had any OS crashes, although I have had to restart the browser a couple of times. Other than that, hardware and software reliability has been excellent for me.

For those thinking about getting a tablet, the Playbook offers an excellent alternative to the iPad 2. Each person would have to weigh the importance of size, screen quality, UI and app availability in their purchasing decision. If I was a mildly demanding computer user wanting to replace a desktop, the iPad 2 may be a very compelling laptop alternative. The Playbook may be more interesting for mobile computing or eBook reading, because of its smaller size and better screen. I think the browsing experience is arguably superior to the iPad due to the inclusion of Flash. The expected Java update will heighten this advantage. In either case, I still think the app availability is completely overstated. Again, other than gaming, I think the Playbook offers a very competitive device.